Acceptance and Resistance

Standard

I haven’t done a political post in a while. Have you missed me?

I’ve made a few passing comments about our political madhouse state. I had to take a break for some time, to step back and breathe, for my own health and sanity. I’m privileged in that I could do this and not suffer any direct repercussions. We all suffer the indirect repercussions.

Not long ago, I listened to the President tell people that wind turbines kill bald eagles. They are “bird cemeteries,” where you can see piles of dead birds of all kinds.* Thus, by implication, they are inherently unpatriotic and anti-environmental. They cause cancer. They can drive you mad with the noise they make. Oh, and if the wind isn’t blowing, zoop, no TV reception for you.

The President talks shit. He exaggerates wildly to deceive. He repeats alt-right propaganda and conspiracy theories as if they are facts. He lies for sport, for fun, for malice, for expedience, for manipulation, and, I suspect, sometimes just to say whatever he wants with no concern for the truth. I guess that last one is “for indifference,” or perhaps “for convenience.” He finds the truth inconvenient but refuses to be inconvenienced by its cumbersome restrictions. Some of his lies don’t even seem to benefit him, which suggests he just prefers lying to telling the truth.** Or maybe he can’t tell the difference.

Now if I had a personal relationship of any manner with someone who lied like this, I would know how to respond. If it were someone I depended on at all, I would treat that as an abusive relationship, set boundaries, and not offer trust again until I had seen repentance in action through changed behavior. If it were a person I was mentoring, I would do my best to walk with them through understanding what motivated them to lie so horribly and recklessly. I would exhort them to pursue recovery, as I would with any other addiction or damaging compulsive behavior. In this comparison, my guess is the person would need professional help beyond my abilities.

But this isn’t a person I or you know personally; this is the leader of our country. I don’t think his lying about wind turbines is the worst thing he does. I’m not even certain his lying is the worst thing he does, though it probably connects, as those things are interwoven.***

One of the most ardent claims I hear from the President’s supporters is “He tells it like it is.” This has made me feel like I’m crazy. How can we be living in such different realities? As of April 27, 2019, he had told 10,111 (ten thousand, one hundred eleven) lies or misleading claims. No typo there. These are all documented and verifiable. Yet recently I was part of a conversation in which the other person demanded “Name one time he has lied!” Of course, the person then rejected any example produced. “For his enthusiasts — especially those who share his anxieties — Trump’s lies feel truer than the truth.” (That’s from Financial Times, by the way. See where they fall on the Media Bias/Fact Check spectrum.)

I mention this as a glimpse of how we are stuck here, at the moment. Day after day, this man commits horrendous acts and demonstrates his character as a narcissist. We have a narcissist and an abuser for President. To be clear, I’m not name-calling, I’m describing him. For a long time, close to four years going back to when we realized we had to take his candidacy seriously, I believed that I could persuade those who support and follow him, especially those who also say they follow Jesus. I truly thought, through hearing reasoning and seeing his actions, people would reach their limits with his behavior. To my knowledge, I convinced not a single person, though I’d love to be wrong about that.

I don’t have much hope of convincing anyone now. I’m sure I’ll keep trying, because I’m an incurable optimist. For a long time, I was furious that people who call themselves “Christians” would defend and rationalize and even uphold his behavior. They justify it based on other people’s bad behaviors, which is at heart a bizarre argument. They make excuses that what is evil is jest, or that it has been misreported or taken out of context. I saw it day after day and raged.

But I’ve moved past that, as well. I’m nearing the end of grief now. I’m close to acceptance. Acceptance in grief is very sad. In one sense, it is the opposite of hope. When our son Isaac died, acceptance took me years to reach, because I didn’t want to say it was okay that he was gone. I fought against God and even rejected my faith for a time because acceptance means surrendering hope of going back. Of course, acceptance actually means entering the reality that there is no hope of going back,**** so any thoughts of going back are rooted in denial or bargaining or one of the stages that fights against this reality. To come through grief is to live in reality and not self-deception.

I’ve accepted now that a significant percentage of caucasian people who call themselves Christians in the US still, after everything we’ve seen and endured, support this President and desire to see him reelected. I find even typing that statement inutterably sad. When I say I’m reaching acceptance I don’t mean “Okay, shrug my shoulders, move on, it’s all fine now.” I mean, like many of you, I’ve made peace with the fact that my place is outside a community that can support him.

I can and will remain friends with people who support him, because Grace is that much bigger than anything else. I will live by Grace. God’s Grace for all of us is my one real hope in the world. But this isn’t business as usual, a mere disagreement over politics, two opposing sides of an argument over, for example, which foreign policy would best serve US interests.

That’s the part we who oppose this administration try to convey: this is utterly, appallingly different. Truthfully, I felt crazy for a long time, not being able to make people see that. How in Jesus’ holy name is that possible? “Look–Rome is burning! See the flames? Smell the smoke? Feel the–what? You don’t? No, it’s not a warm, sunny day, those are–no, that isn’t a hazy sunset, we’re on–no, you aren’t smelling a campfire or someone’s bonfire it’s… You’re kidding?”

“Oh. You’re not kidding.”

Someone can look at him mocking a disabled person, using the exact motion we did in grade school to mock disabled people whom we then called “retarded”–because we were horrible little beasts in sixth grade and God had a long way to go to change our hearts–and then look me in the eye and tell me he wasn’t doing that? I know, he did that so long ago, he’s done so much since then, but the song remains the same. Verse after verse. He calls women “dogs,” he calls Latino immigrants “animals,” he calls whole nations “shitholes.” Yet someone tells me I’m not seeing with my own eyes what my eyes tell me I’m seeing. I’m told that Obama started this policy of separating children and parents. It doesn’t matter that research and investigation shows that while the seeds of this policy existed, carrying it out has been a conscious, strategic decision of this administration. Even if this were a continuing abhorrence, how would that make it defensible now? Wait–Christians are okay with children being taken from their parents with no plan or intent to reunite them…when they came here seeking help, for asylum…because they were starving or their lives were threatened in their home countries? Like the country in which I lived for seven years? Because I have friends who fled that country and sought asylum here.

Nothing about that says “business as usual” and we haven’t touched on how he is attempting to dismantle the framework of checks and balances on which our democracy depends. Acceptance is heart-sick sadness for me. But I’m nearly there, now. I still don’t get it, but I don’t feel crazy anymore. I’m not crazy. Jesus didn’t change. I’ve thought and talked and listened a lot to try to understand, and I do believe I understand some of the motivations and thought processes behind people’s choices.  And I wholeheartedly disagree. I accept that this is what some people believe; I cannot accept that I can follow Jesus and remain silent about any of this.

I hope you understand, acceptance as a stage of grieving does not equal acceptance of this President’s choices, actions, or his continuing in office. I’m more convinced than ever that we must work together to end this.

But you know that. “How” is a different question and a different set of posts.

I’m just letting you know how I’ve regained my sanity, worked through my grief, and continue in my determination to oppose this nightmare.

PS If I’ve surprised or offended you by what I’ve written here, you may have missed this post. Again, I’m not seeking to end friendships, but I believe being faithful to Jesus requires that I speak up.

*”Collisions with wind turbines account for about one-tenth of a percent of all “unnatural” bird deaths in the United States each year. And of all bird deaths, 30 percent are due to natural causes, like baby birds falling from nests [source: AWEA].”

**He lied about where his father was born. Where his father was born? Could anything be easier to verify? Why do that? “My father is German,” he said in the Oval Office. “Right? Was German. And born in a very wonderful place in Germany, and so I have a great feeling for Germany.” His father was born in the Bronx.

***This is true of all of us. My worst sins are connected to my other sins.

****Outside of a Marvel movie.

6 thoughts on “Acceptance and Resistance

  1. Sherry Dearborn

    Very well written, Mike! And I agree with everything you have said about Trump, the political situation in our country, and grieving. I have been sick at heart and find your words and feelings help me to stay sane. Blessed Be.

  2. Tim Dearborn

    You have a great comment policy – “If it is critical, please make it constructive.” Does this apply to your posts as well?

    It is obvious that you are critical of any supporter of our current President, apparently going to the point of questioning their relationship with Christ.

    “I’ve accepted now that a significant percentage of caucasian people WHO CALL THEMSELVES CHRISTIANS in the US still, after everything we’ve seen and endured, support this President and desire to see him reelected.” (emphasis mine)

    So what is your constructive suggestion?

    Please note that just because a person “supports” someone, it does not mean that they support everything that person does or stands for. Also, that support may be in context of what other options are available. Just saying that things are not always as black and white as the various “sides” in the political arena try to paint them.

    • Jim Allyn

      It is entirely appropriate to be critical of Donald Trump and his supporters, and to question their relationship with Christ. Trump’s policy regarding fossil fuels, as just one example, can be considered as nothing other than a conscious and deliberate attempt to destroy God’s Creation – and to profit from the process. Trump’s followers, who support his attempts to destroy the Creation, clearly DON’T KNOW Christ (if they did, they might consider loving their neighbors instead of destroying the environment that sustains them, for example), and therefore obviously HAVE NO relationship with Christ. Perhaps by Mike’s pointing that out, some of them can be encouraged, if not to begin a relationship with Christ, at least to start becoming decent human beings. You want a constructive suggestion? How about stop being and following a heinous monster?

      • Tim Dearborn

        Wow, that garnered quite a response! I’d love to get together with you over coffee sometime. If you’re ever in the Chicago area, seriously, look me up. Mike has my contact info.

        Just be careful pigeon-holing someone whom you think might disagree with you. Often, there is more agreement that one may think. Also, calling people names generally doesn’t encourage conversation over ideas.

  3. Trish G

    Tim Dearborn ~ you have a point.

    I am confident in saying that many people who actually are Christians still support Trump. They actually are Christians, just as the people of Israel were people of Israel when they were in need of and receiving the prophets.

    As starkly as Trump’s every move contrasts with the priorities Jesus taught us in his parables, I dare say we have some deeply deluded Christians in our country. Trump isn’t the first and won’t be the last golden calf believers will follow.

    We do not know why, but God allows people to be deceived ~ to become blind. Some times and places are more pervaded by deception than others.

    “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.”
    John 12:40 (Isaiah 6:9; Matthew 13:15; Mark 4:12; Acts 28:27)

  4. Trish G

    “So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather, through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!”
    Romans 11:11-12

    It has come to appear to me that our evangelicals have been allowed to stumble so that others could know their divine right to draw near to God. Evangelicals have never had an exclusive claim to the almighty, but they have thought they did, and it had come to appear to many that God was in their camp. Until now.

    It’s become pretty clear to the rest of our society that our LGBQT&etc folks demonstrate more kindness than our evangelicals do. That “sinners” have at least as much divinity as Sunday morning worshipers do.

    I think our current evangelical “hardness of heart” is about breaking open the treasure trove of God’s bounty to all, just as Gentiles came to be welcomed to God’s camp in early New Testament days ~

    New Testament, ie, new deal. Not just for the Israelites any more, but for all comers.

    In a very positive spin, we’re in the throes of another new testament ~ and we were due for one. I think we’ll find a much broader spectrum of our society finding that we too belong to God ~

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.